would you do if the mother who abandoned you decades ago made national
news after being arrested for protesting at a political rally? Would you
come to her rescue? Samuel Anderson, English professor and online gamer
decides to help his mother, which leads him to uncover family secrets.
If Samuel had known his mother was leaving, he might have paid more attention. He might have listened more carefully to her, observed her more closely, written certain crucial things down. Maybe could have acted differently, spoken differently been a different person.—The Nix by Nathan Hill (Penguin Random House, Knopf, 2016, p. 3)
Maybe he could have been a child worth sticking around for.
- Setting: the United States at four points in time: 2011, 1988, 1968, 1944
- Circumstances: Samuel's mother left him in 1988 when he was
only 11 years old. After their unexpected reunion, he decides to help
her, which involves delving into her past. What he discovers makes him
question family truths and see America in a new way. He might also find a
way to save himself.
- Genre: fiction; literary fiction
- Themes: American culture and politics, family, motherhood, and following one's bliss.
- Characters: Samuel, English professor and gamer; Faye, his mother; Sheldon Parker, the conservative politician whom Faye was protesting against; Samuel's students and colleagues at the university; Samuel's gamer friends; real people from politics, the media, and the arts
- What does the title mean? Apparently the Nix is being from Norse mythology. According to the back of the book, it's "a spirit who appears as a white horse that steals children away."
- Things to know: Reviewers have been all over the place. Some say it's going to be their favorite book of the year; others couldn't get past the first third; and still others though it was just okay. Kirkus gave The Nix a starred review, and EW put it on it's must-read list. It was also a BEA2016 buzz book. Author Nathan Hill is an award-winning short story writer. This is his debut novel.
- My thoughts: I'm going to give this 600-page tome a try because the wildly mixed reviews have made me curious. I think I'm going be most interested in the sections that take place in 1968, but maybe I'll be surprised.